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Perman Addresses UMB's Achievements, Future

With a pinch of history, a dash of pride, and a heaping helping of collaboration, University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) President Jay A. Perman, MD, put forth a winning recipe in his first annual State of the University Address.

Speaking at a packed School of Nursing auditorium on April 24 that included dignitaries such as University System of Maryland (USM) Chancellor William E. Kirwan, PhD, Perman discussed UMB's recent achievements and the challenges it will confront in the coming year.

The address grew out of the transparency and accountability component of the University's 2011-2016 strategic plan and was the first such speech in a quarter-century at UMB, the founding campus of USM that dates to 1807.

Perman, president since 2010, paid homage to UMB's history early in his remarks, mentioning Albin O. Kuhn, PhD, who became UMB's first CEO, then called chancellor, in 1971.

Said Perman: "Dr. Kuhn said, 'We need to examine the objectives of the individual schools and how they fit together as a whole. We must continue to find better ways to work with other campuses of the university.'

"So today when I talk about collaboration within and beyond our University, I proudly stand on Chancellor Kuhn's shoulders," Perman said. "But it was surely a simpler time when Dr. Kuhn led this great University. Today, when higher education, biomedical research, legal and human services scholarship is so much more complex than it was 43 years ago, working together is even more important."

Teamwork, among schools, disciplines, universities, and the community, was a recurring theme throughout Perman's address.

He called UMB's strategic plan "a model of Universitywide engagement." More than 400 faculty, staff, students, and affiliates participated in forming the plan while hundreds more provided input through surveys. The strategic plan will shape UMB for the next decade.

Perman then went on to discuss the University of Maryland: MPowering the State, a structured collaboration between UMB and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) formed in early 2012. MPowering the State uses the resources of the two universities to better serve students, attract more exceptional faculty and researchers, and boost research, technology transfer, and commercialization of UMB and UMCP discoveries.

"This has developed into an exciting and powerful relationship that allows us to create new ideas, solve challenges, and think in new ways," Perman told the audience. "The power of collaboration!"

Perman gave several examples of MPowering successes: The UM Scholars Program allows College Park students who are interested in the biomedical and health sciences to do summer research at UMB, and UMB students to enroll in programs at College Park; Baltimore's Carey School of Law has joined with UMCP to launch several initiatives; and a collaborative school of public health has been formed from a partnership between the School of Medicine's Department of Epidemiology and Public Health in Baltimore and the School of Public Health in College Park.

"Students at the collaborative school of public health will be able to take a joint curriculum with specializations that draw on the unique strengths of both campuses," Perman said.

He also said UMB is committed to maintaining and enlarging its activities in areas such as Montgomery, Anne Arundel, Cecil, and Prince George's counties, on the Eastern Shore, and in Southern Maryland.

The Center for Health-Related Informatics and Bioimaging, the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology, the Research HARBOR, and UM Ventures were among other collaborative projects mentioned by Perman.

"UM Ventures has overseen a 35 percent increase in the last two years in the number of inventions that our scientists have identified for potential patenting," Perman said. "We have increased the number of licenses by 47 percent, and we have increased revenue from these activities by 35 percent. New startups have more than doubled."

One can't discuss research at UMB without mentioning the University of Maryland BioPark, which Perman said "is already home to the largest cluster of biotech companies in the city of Baltimore. Our goal is to grow it into the largest innovation community in the state of Maryland."

Its newest addition is the Maryland Proton Treatment Center, a $200 million facility that will provide state-of-the art care to nearly 2,000 cancer patients annually when it opens in 2015.

Perman, who is co-chair of the Westside Task Force with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and chair of the Downtown Partnership, also spoke of UMB's commitment to the community and progress made in the last 18 months.

"And, there's more to come," he said. "I have a vision of UMB as an easily recognizable and vibrant urban university surrounded by a redeveloped and revitalized Baltimore City."

Health Sciences Facility III, which is under construction and due to be completed in 2017, will add 429,000 square feet to UMB's campus, enabling the research enterprise to grow. A recently created Center for Interprofessional Education (IPE) is serving as a platform for IPE initiatives across UMB.

Perman lauded incoming Carey School of Law Dean Donald B. Tobin, JD, and outgoing Dean Phoebe A Haddon, JD, LLM.

He also noted the addition of signage, lighting, walking trails, and the UM shuttle, but said he is far from satisfied.

"I am often asked why I am so determined to improve our community," he said. "To me it is core to what we do: education, research, clinical care, and service are about improving the human condition. We, of course, cannot do this alone. We will work with our many partners to enhance the health and welfare of our community in novel and innovative ways" he said, mentioning the Institute for a Healthiest Maryland, Promise Heights, and others.

UMB will be facing many challenges in the next year, Perman said. Cybersecurity continues to grow as a threat and is being addressed. Financial uncertainty also looms.

"To have a balanced operating budget for FY15, noticeable reductions in expenses will be required," Perman said. "I need all of you -- my colleagues -- to work with me to address this challenge. We must collaborate to innovate, improve, and ultimately remove unnecessary expenses. To that end, we are undertaking an operational innovation and expense reduction initiative."

While on the topic of finances, Perman noted the "Making an Impact Worldwide" capital campaign that raised $665 million at its completion in December 2012, the "magnanimous" $30 million gift from the Carey Foundation naming the Carey School of Law, and the UMB Foundation Scholarship Matching Program, which during the next two years will award $15 million in new endowed scholarships. "There will be many more similar initiatives as we harness our full fundraising potential," Perman vowed.

Perman praised the governing bodies on campus, the Diversity Advisory Council, the Carey School of Law's Law and Health Care Program that was ranked first in the nation recently by U.S.News & World Report, and four UMB faculty members who were honored by the USM Board of Regents -- "the most of any system institution," Perman said.

A pediatrician who headed the state Summit on Childhood Obesity in 2011, Perman closed with a salute to the children, including members of the OrchKids ensemble that opened and closed his address with songs.

"Ladies and gentlemen, in the final analysis, it is for the future of the children whose sweet music we enjoyed here today -- for children everywhere -- that we exist," Perman said. "It is ultimately for their sake that our research; our education and training; our service missions go forward. Colleagues and friends, the state of UMB is strong; we are optimistic; and we are determined to excel as a public good."

Posting Date: 04/24/2014
Contact Name: Chris Zang
Contact Phone: 410-706-2074
Contact Email: czang001@umaryland.edu